Auto blogFri, 09 Aug 2013 15:45:00 EST
It's not uncommon to see an automaker go a little outside of its comfort zone when creating a concept car, but Kia seems to be going all out for a new small concept it plans to unveil at the Frankfurt Motor Show. Although there is not much information to go on about this unnamed concept, Kia does say that it "hints at a possible future B-segment contender."
With headlights that would look at home on a C7 Corvette or Jaguar F-Type and door cut lines reminiscent of a Ford GT, we can only imagine how sporty this car will look in the flesh. The wide door openings also give a good glimpse inside the car revealing details deep, flat-bottomed steering wheel with paddle shifters and the peculiar rotary-style shifter, but our attention is on the instrument panel switches. If you look closely, the second switch from the left seems to be for a center differential possibly hinting at a future sporty all-wheel-drive Kia. Yes, please! Scroll down for the brief press release on the car, and stay tuned for more info as we'll be on hand covering the show next month.
Doug DeMuro from Plays With Cars, Infiniti Q50, Subaru BRZ STI, Porsche Macan
Episode #344 of the Autoblog podcast is here, and this week, Dan Roth and Executive Editor Chris Paukert are joined by Doug DeMuro, author of Plays With Cars and prolific internet autowriting presence. Topics include the latest spy shots of the Porsche Macan, the 2014 Infiniti Q50, and the teaser images we've recently seen of a Subaru BRZ wearing STI badges. As always, we start with what's in the garage and finish up with some of your questions. For those of you who hung with us live on our UStream channel, thanks for taking the time. You can follow along after the jump with our Q&A. Thanks for listening!
Autoblog Podcast #344:
Kia is bringing back its so-called "hotbots," the slightly disturbing female robots that traipse about the uncanny valley while hustling the new Forte and "respecting the tech," for three new, humorous animated spots.
The Hotbots first debuted during Kia's latest Super Bowl spot, which followed the debut of the 2014 Forte sedan at the 2012 Los Angeles Auto Show. Each new spot follows the premise of the two originals, with the hotbots protecting the Forte while the oblivious owner stands by. Take a look at all three ads below, along with the two originals that kicked the series off.
After skipping the 2013 model year and returning for 2014, the Kia Sedona is getting a full redesign for 2015, which we see for the first time in these new spy shots. The new Sedona isn't going to look as much like the 2011 KV7 Concept as we had hoped, but we definitely see some key styling cues from the Kia concept minivan.
Even though it's covered in heavy camouflage, we can see that some of the KV7's cues on the 2015 Sedona include the vertical front marker lights, the horizontal taillights and the pinched beltline starting at the C-pillar. Kia's trademark Tiger Nose grille is present and accounted for, as is the telltale dip in the windshield.
All in all, the next-gen Sedona already looks to be a significant improvement over the current, generally boring model, which dates back to 2006 and has a striking resemblance to the Ford Freestar. There is no word yet as to what will power the 2015 Sedona, but our spy shooter said that this prototype was most likely powered by a 2.2-liter diesel.
Toyota showed us a Spongebob Squarepants-themed Toyota Highlander last week. Kia has now revealed a Justice League themed Sorento. Can we just have normal, competent crossovers without all the animation frosting, please?
To be fair, this Sorento is for a good cause. It will be part of a charity auction on eBay, benefitting DC Entertainment's We Can Be Heroes campaign, which raises money for the famine-ridden Horn of Africa, a region that's facing its worst food crisis in six decades. DCE's President, Diane Nelson, claims DC has managed to raise over $285,000 through crowd-funding campaigns and unique opportunities for its fans. The Justice League Sorento is just the latest such fund-raising opportunity, with the automaker having already commissioned a number of similar themed vehicles for individual members of the Justice League.
The seven-passenger Sorento was designed by Jim Lee and created by West Coast Customs. It sports graphics that, relative to the Spongebob Highlander, are downright subtle. Batman, Green Lantern and Wonder Woman are depicted on the driver's side, while Superman, the Flash, Aquaman and Cyborg are on the passenger side. The Justice League logo is emblazoned on the Sorento's hood.
The funky Kia Soul is one of the three affordable, efficient and style-first boxes on sale today (along with the Scion xB and Nissan Cube). Like its competition, it sits atop a front-drive platform with a longitudinally mounted four-cylinder engine.
It's a dandy car in this setup, but it sounds like Kia may be looking to differentiate the Soul from the herd by offering an optional all-wheel-drive system in the future. According to the report filed by Kia World, the popularity of the small, stylish crossover segment is expected to expand considerably over the coming years, especially overseas.
Citing the optional all-wheel drive on the Renault Captur, Ford Ecosport and Opel Mokka (Buick Encore in the US), along with the eventual arrival of a sub-Tiguan Volkswagen, called the Taigun, an all-wheel-drive Soul seems to make a lot of sense for these foreign markets. In the American market, meanwhile, AWD would open the Soul up to a new segment of buyers that like its looks but want all-wheel ability. Kia World is claiming the Soul AWD could hit markets in 2016 wearing a ruggedized version of the sheetmetal shown on the 2014 Soul that debuted in earlier this year in New York. Expect a bit of extra ground clearance to accompany the new drivetrain. Finally, all-wheel drive would likely only be available on the mid-range Soul + and top-spec Soul !.
Kia Motors Manufacturing Georgia, Inc. (KMMG), the plant that produces the Kia Sorento crossover and Optima sedan, celebrated today as a Snow White Pearl 2014 Sorento SXL rolled off the assembly line at the 2,259-acre site, marking the one-millionth Kia to be produced on US soil.
Located in West Point, Georgia, KMMG was Kia Motors America's first manufacturing plant in the US and represented an initial investment of $1 billion. The plant started producing the 2011 Sorento on November 16, 2009 and is responsible for the creation of 11,000 jobs in West Point and the surrounding region. Production of the Optima sedan, Kia's best-selling car in the US for the past 18 months, started at the factory in 2011, and, in 2012, the completion of a $100 million expansion upped annual vehicle production capacity to 360,000.
"Building one million vehicles in less than four years is a tremendous achievement and one that each one of our more than 3,000 team members can take great pride in," said Byung Mo Ahn, Group President and CEO for Kia Motors America and KMMG.
Up until now, we've only heard rumors about an all-electric version of the second-generation Kia Soul, but these spy shots seem to confirm that the Korean automaker is developing a zero-emission version of its quirky little box-back. Our most recent report has the Kia EV showing up in the first half of next year (likely for MY 2015) with a starting price of around $35,000 (presumably before tax credits) and a range of about 120 miles.
While the front and rear of this prototype remains heavily camouflaged, we can see some differences between this car and the 2014 Soul we saw earlier in the year at the New York Auto Show. For starters, the entire front end seems to be changed, including the hood, headlights and fascia, and we would expect Kia's so-called Tiger Nose grille to be blocked off for improved aerodynamics. Further supporting our shooter's claims that this is an electric vehicle is the fact that the Soul's exhaust pipe is missing from beneath the rear fascia.
Previous reports have indicated that the Soul EV will become "the very-first electic vehicle to be sold in the global market, including the US, Europe and China." It would appear that claim may be validated by technicality only - Nissan sells its Leaf in the US and Europe, and it will reportedly be sold as the Dongfeng Fengshen E30 in China.
It's been a number of years since we last heard rumors about a drop-top Kia, but as the South Korean automaker continues to grow into new segments, why not stir things up again? Fan site Kia-world.net got its hands on what is claimed to be an exclusive drawing (click to enlarge) of the Kia Pro_cee'd GT Cabrio.
This rendering looks exactly like what we'd picture a topless version of the three-door hatchback to look like, but until there's any official information, we'll keep this filed under "we'll believe it when we see it." The idea of a Kia convertible sounds good to us, especially if it looks like this, but we're still waiting for the sporty model that lead designer Peter Schreyer said could happen "sooner or later" back in 2010.
Kia's Second Effort At Luxury Finds More Love Than The Amanti
The same recent global economic crises that have led luxury automakers to invade the small car market are also somewhat responsible for the influx of near-luxury sedans from mainstream automakers. As the likes of Mercedes-Benz and Audi are reaching down for new customers, automakers like Hyundai, Chevrolet and Toyota are reaching up to bridge the gap and fill in the white space between the industry's typical high-volume large sedans and established luxury sedans. Joining this emerging market, the 2014 Kia Cadenza is the latest sedan to blur the line between value and luxury. One of Kia's core focuses has been offering value to customers, and even with a starting price of $35,100, the Cadenza still represents plenty of that kind of thinking.
Despite what might first come to mind, the Cadenza is not named after a piece of furniture. Instead, Kia notes the name for its new front-wheel-drive flagship comes from the Italian musical term that translates as 'cadence'. The name thus fits in nicely with the brand's other musically inspired model name, Forte. Much like the Hyundai Genesis, the Cadenza will serve as a test of sorts to see how much customers are willing to pay for a Kia, and despite recent reports indicating that Kia has confirmed the Quoris for next year, the reality is that the availability of the bigger rear-wheel-drive flagship will be determined in part by how well the Cadenza strikes a chord with buyers.